Saturday, December 10, 2011

Charlotte Hounds Making an Immediate Presence in Major League Lacrosse

The Charlotte Hounds are entering Major League Lacrosse with a bang.

In putting its inaugural roster together the expansion club is sparing no expense at making a splash. Management has been aggressive in putting together an offensive minded roster with plenty of big-time names.

The biggest move the team made was during the expansion draft, when they traded with the Long Island Lizards for perennial MVP candidate Matt Danowski.

“We decided to make a move that would provide us with MLL-ready players for training camp at the start of the season,” Hounds Director of Sales and Marketing Wade Leaphart said in an interview with MLL.

Danowski, a four-time All-American at nearby Duke University (where his dad also coaches), comes back to the state of North Carolina with an impressive professional career resume. He was an All-Star his first season in the league (2008) and has been every year since.

Last season Danowski finished fourth in the league in points, first in two-point goals and tied for second in game-winning goals continuing to show every week how dangerous he is on offense. He had at least two points every game. Danowski is also a starting attackman for the U.S. national team.

Charlotte scored big time in getting Danowski. The team acquires a player that is extremely talented, has a high profile and can bring in fans (he’s the star of Warrior’s “Manchine” commercials) and is a guy with local ties that will help with community relations. He’s also only 26-years-old so he can be the cornerstone of the franchise for a number of years to come.

The Hounds didn’t stop with Danowski though. In the deal to bring the attackman to Charlotte the team also received All-Star midfielder Stephen Berger. Berger has been a staple in the Lizards midfield since 2005 and was in the top-15 in points last season.

Another name joining the former Lizards is attcakman Billy Bitter, traded to the team from the Denver Outlaws. Bitter is another collegiate star from the state of North Carolina as an alumnus of the Tar Heels. He scored 12 goals in his rookie season to go along with four assists in only nine games.

“I’ve basically been down in North Carolina the past five years. I’ve grown to love the state a lot,” Bitter told MLL. “I have a lot of close people down here so I’m real excited…to be part of this organization.”

Rounding out a pretty talented and deep attack is 2011 MLL Rookie of the Year Jeremy Boltus. He was selected away from the Hamilton Nationals with Charlotte’s first selection in the Expansion Draft. Boltus scored 19 goals in 12 games last season and had a total of 30 points.

As the roster continues to fill out there is plenty here for Charlotte lacrosse fans to be optimistic about.

Much like the team has been aggressive in acquiring talent they have the makings of a dynamic offense that should not only be entertaining to watch but that could help make the Hounds a very competitive team, even as an expansion club.

Photo Credits.
Matt Danowski (top): Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Billy Bitter (right): Jim Rogash/Getty Images

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